Day 14: The Strength to Rest Well
Have you ever witnessed a young child with a broken bone weary of the cast? They often do not understand why they cannot do what they want to do—like swim in the lake with the other kids. The cast often cannot be removed for weeks and the parent must remain unmoved even through the begging and pleading. The child may feel disappointed, even slighted and unloved, when in reality, the parent is acting in the most loving and caring manner possible.
We see something similar in Scripture.
But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 2 Cor. 12:9
Three times Paul asks the Lord to remove what we know is a “thorn in his flesh,” and that request is denied. Instead, God assures him His favor is enough. On the surface, that response seems a little harsh. We don’t know what the thorn was—but we know enough of Paul to recognize he is not a complainer. The pain was real. The need was great.
Like the parent of a child with a broken bone, what is being expressed in this exchange between the Lord and Paul is truly the utmost loving gesture we could imagine—just counter-intuitive. Unless the difficulty, painful trial or circumstance remains, Paul will not fully come to know the strength of the Lord in his life. And that supernatural power will not be able to fully rest upon him.
Somehow Paul accepted God’s response and learns to rest well. It took three times! Hey, we can all be encouraged. In the end, Paul does what we don’t want to do. Not only does he accept his situation, he fully embraces it. He is finally able to see the provision and protection and love of best interest the Lord is lavishing over him. Ultimately the cost not to rest in God’s strength became greater than the relief of the trial removed.
We need to know what this looks like! What Paul articulates is so counter-intuitive, counter-culture and against our nature–it can be difficult to grasp.
How do we find the Strength to Rest Well?
1. Accept God’s Purpose
If God chooses to leave you and I in our weary circumstances, our difficulties, and challenging relationships—it is to demonstrate His favor toward us and His strength through us. It is not to hurt us purposelessly.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:23
2. Admit your vulnerability
Owning our weakness makes us ready and willing to empty ourselves to be filled up with him–for that is where the Lord’s strength begins.
When our Lord has accomplished in us what He is aiming, the result will be to empty us out and to make us discover the utter vanity of self. If the Lord ever takes you like a dish and turns you upside down, and wipes you right out, and sets you away on a shelf, then you will feel what He means you to feel—that is to say you will feel as if you were waiting there for the Lord to take you down and use you, and then, be sure, He will come in due time, and use you for His honorable purposes, laying meat upon you for His hungry people and making you an ornament at His banquets of love. If you feel yourself to be a full dish, I will tell you what there is in you—you hold nothing but the slop and filthiness of depraved nature. The Lord will never use you till all that is poured out, and you are wiped quite clean and put away with nothing of yourself remaining in you, wherein you may rejoice!” Charles Spurgeon
3. Become a Nothing and a Nobody
When we learn to navigate these first two aspects—even embrace them, the power of Christ becomes conspicuous in our lives. That is what it will look like for the strength and power of Christ to “tabernacle upon you, or to pitch His tent on you.” But it cannot occur when we are too busy being Somebodies. Not to say God cannot use someone thrust into the limelight. But seeking it out rather than seeking glory for His Name is a sure path to powerlessness. Instead, we are to make every effort to put Him ahead of ourselves. I don’t know what that looks like in your life. For me it means sitting in small spaces, alone, and listening to hear what He might have me write. It means not seeking what the industry tells me to seek. It means putting aside what I want for what He desires for me.
But it’s not like we are missing anything! We are receiving something better!
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, Colossians 1:19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
Maybe you are dealing with all sorts of difficulties today, trying to navigate the pain and problems He has ordained in your life. And it’s not going well. You have found no rest. And you want out. It’s probably a valid request.
My friend, He knows it’s just you. I’m sorry. You are not enough.
This resting business is not for sprinters. There are no quick ins and outs. It’s for the marathoners– those who understand the steadfastness necessary in the Christian life.
If He says to you and to me, “No. the difficulty must remain.” On the very foundations of Holy Writ WHICH CANNOT BE SHAKEN– we can plant our feet solidly on the knowledge that IT IS SO in our measly lives: His strength and power can be conspicuous through us in the midst of our difficulty.
You are I filled with all the fullness of God, Himself. Isn’t it time that we began to live like it and others began to see it?
Oh that we might get this!
The glory of our God is made known when you and I finally begin to learn how to rest well.
May He become conspicuous in your life– in power and supernatural strength! And may you rest well in it.
With much affection,
For His Glory!